New York (AFP) - After his trip to Washington, Pope Francis will spend a hectic 36 hours in New York, America's largest city, its business capital and a melting pot of immigrants, all under tight security lockdown.
Francis, the fourth pope to visit New York in 50 years, arrives at John F. Kennedy Airport at 5:00 pm (2100 GMT) on Thursday and leaves for Philadelphia at 8:40 am Saturday.
Here are the most important things to know about the Argentine pope's first visit to the Big Apple:
At 6:45 pm, Francis leads evening prayers at St Patrick's Cathedral, nestled between luxury boutiques on Fifth Avenue. Some 2,500 worshippers will attend, most of them members of the clergy.
At 8:30 am, the pope will visit the United Nations.
A few hours later, he leads a multidenominational remembrance service at the 9/11 Memorial, to be attended by around 700 faith community representatives.
In the afternoon, Francis will next visit Our Lady Queen of Angels, a Catholic school in Harlem, where he will meet children and immigrants.
He will then make his way through Central Park, greeting a crowd of around 80,000 people chosen by lucky dip.
And at 6:00 pm, he leads mass at Madison Square Garden, New York's premier concert venue and home of the Knicks basketball team, where about 20,000 people are expected to watch.
The US Secret Service leads 50 agencies providing security for the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, whose visit coincides with that of 170 leaders arriving for the UN General Assembly.
"I think we are absolutely ready," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Street closures and restrictions will be extensive. Members of the public and ticketed guests will undergo strict screening and long security lines.
Pilots will be subject to enhanced air restrictions, and drones and radio-control model aircraft are prohibited.
Temperatures are forecast to stay in the low 70s Fahrenheit (20s Celsius) with light cloud coverage, a fresh breeze and no rain.
According to a poll carried out by Siena College last week, 73 percent of New Yorkers have a favorable opinion of the pope. Among New York Catholics, the figure rises to 83 percent.
Four million Catholics
The archdiocese of New York, which covers three of the city's five boroughs, and the diocese of Brooklyn, which covers Brooklyn and Queens, count 2.6 and 1.5 million Catholics, respectively.
A third of Catholics in the New York metropolitan area are Hispanics, according to the Pew Research Center. Only 11 percent are younger than 30.